A Country First: Nairobi Farmers Market Seeks to Link Food Producers Directly with Buyers

Kenyan farmers will soon have their own market where they sell produce directly to consumers, cutting off the traditional value chain that is replete with middlemen.

The Nairobi Farmers Market, which is under construction in the upmarket Runda Estate, off Kiambu Road, will contain 45 stalls that are exclusively operated by farmers.

This borrows from international practice where most cities have farmers markets that supply produce direct from the farms to the consumers. While some provide temporary selling space for different farmers on a day-to-day basis, others lease out permanent shops that are operated by individual farmers who take the space on a long-term basis.

“We are essentially addressing the contradiction where farm-gate prices for cabbages, for example, are less than Sh10 a piece but the consumer pays Sh60. In-between numerous traders, brokers and county levy collectors eat the sweat from the farmer and the savings from the consumer. We are creating a facility that will be a big help for both the farmer and the consumer,” says Mr Munene Mashine, the Project Manager.

He says the other concern the market will address will be traceability of produce and guarantee of good agricultural practices. All the farmers/shop owners will have to submit to regular inspections and certification, similar to what is required of export produce.

Questions have been asked about some of the fresh produce sold in Kenya, with suspicions that some of it is grown with sewage and other polluted water.

The proposed market, which is expected to open in July, will contain sections for fresh produce, Beef, fish and poultry products, dairy produce and a grains section. The Mwea Rice Centre within the market, for example, promises to provide “Mwea rice at Mwea prices” – a potentially revolutionary approach that will ensure great conveniences for Nairobi shoppers keen on the popular Pishori rice.

An artist’s impression of the Nairobi Farmers Market in Runda, which will open in July 2019.

The market developers say they will encourage stall owners to contract and supervise small-scale growers to ensure sufficient supplies within the set quality guidelines while also spreading the benefits of the market to more farmers. By aggregating produce from the many farmers in the market, they hope to create a secondary outlet for supplying institutional customers such as hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals. This will ensure and an expansive market potential that can provide an outlet for thousands of farmers.

“We will encourage shop owners to sign up outgrowers across the country, and even to work with County Governments where necessary. This way we can create an efficient road to market for the exceptional pineapple growers of Homa Bay, the sweet potato farmers in Kakamega and the honey producers in Baringo and elsewhere. We are creating a platform that offers guarantees at both the supply and demand side of the equation and hopefully we can provide some stability for everyone,” says Mr Mashine.

Globally, farmers’ markets usually include an eating out section where freshly-prepared dishes are served. The markets, such as the Borough Market in London, La Boqueria in Barcelona and the Shongweni Farmers Market in South Africa, are top tourist attractions as they provide a good perspective of what the country has to offer.

The Nairobi market will also have a restaurant and since this is Kenya, a nyama choma outlet. Some farmers will be selling produce that has gone through some basic primary processing.

The developers say they want the market to be “fun for the shoppers because even though price advantage is important, it is not the only thing that matters to the modern shopper.”

The market is being developed by a local investor, United Agromarts Limited.

In order to also be in tune with modern shopping trends, the market plans to launch an aggressive home deliveries campaign driven through the Nairobi Farmers Market App.

“It will be a blend between the Uber and the Jumia technologies – you do your shopping online, and we are able to find where you are using the Google Maps facility. We will launch this as soon as the market opens and people see they can trust us, they don’t have to touch and feel the tomato before dropping it into the shopping basket. I think when people have worked so hard to earn their money, they shouldn’t always have to run all over the place to spend it. We will do the running for them,” says Mr Mashine.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Cape Town Hotel Gets Off the Water Grid with New Desalination Plant

A five-star hotel in Cape Town has built its own desalination plant to enable it to get off the city’s water grid.

The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Granger Bay can produce 7,000 litres of fresh water an hour using sea water pumped from a 100m borehole.

The hotel is the latest large business in Cape Town to install a reverse-osmosis desalination plant so that it is no longer reliant on mains water.

Engineers sank a borehole under the hotel, which is close to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing for up to 11,500l of seawater an hour to be pumped into tanks.

The reverse-osmosis plant treats 7,000l an hour, which is pumped into a 70,000l fresh- water tank.

The desalination system at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, in Cape Town.

“Using a desalination plant allows us to operate completely off the municipal water supply,” said hotel general manager Clinton Thom.

A year ago, Cape Town was only weeks away from “Day Zero” – when taps would have been turned off – after three winters of low rainfall. The city council constructed three temporary desalination plants – in Strandfontein, Monwabisi and the V&A Waterfront.

Dams are now around half full. Four months ago, water restrictions were relaxed from level 5 to level 3.

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said: “Only 1% of people in the Western Cape at any one time are comprised of overseas tourists and visitors, but it’s essential that the tourism industry leads the way in sustainable practices.”

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Google Has Opened its First African Artificial Intelligence Lab in Ghana

Tech giant Google is all set to exhibit itself as AI first company in front of the world by opening new research centers across the globe such as in Tokyo, Zurich, New York, and Paris. Following this idea, the company has opened its first center in Africa in Ghana capital city, Accra last week.

While growing up we have always pictured AI as some fiction scene of Sci-fi movie but little do we realize that it has become our reality now. Considering solely Google’s innovation, from virtual assistant to language translation, AI has served it all.

Not only in urban societies but in rural areas also the technology is thriving at its best. Now if a farmer with a smartphone hovers over a withering plant, he/she is more likely to get the easy diagnosis of the disease affecting the plant and according to plan its solution.

Using Google’s AI machine app ‘TensorFlow’, farmers analyze the issue with their plants and boost their production. TensorFlow was outsourced by the company to help developers generate solutions to real-world problems.

Moustapha Cisse, the research scientist heading up Google’s AI efforts in Africa said, “The team’s goal is to provide developers with the necessary research needed to build products that can solve problems that Africa faces today. Most of what we do in our research centers at Google and not just in Accra, we publish it and open-source code, so that everybody can use it to build all sorts of things.”

Cisse precisely indicated that his team is working on to collaborate with the same kind of app used by farmers in Tanzania to diagnose plant issues.

A robot pours popcorn from a cooking pot into a bowl on March 8, 2017 at the Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) of the university of Bremen, northwestern Germany.

Further, Cisse added, “A team of Pennsylvania University and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture using TensorFlow to build new artificial intelligence models that are deployed on phones to diagnose crop disease. This wasn’t done by us but by people who use the tools we built. When we do science, the results of our research, usually and hopefully, because it is of good quality, goes way further than we expect and we are hoping to see the same things happen here in Accra and across Africa.”

Telling about his team Cisse said that it is a diverse team and it has come out to be an important aspect that Africa is at the forefront of availing with the solution to the continent’s problem.

The African center will zoom into the process of enhancing Google Translate abilities to grab African languages with accuracy as it has more than 2000 dialects and needs to be better served with technology.

Keeping an eye on the rising young population of Africa, Google has joined hands with Facebook and certain other tech companies to launch projects in the region.

There has also been an algorithmic bias problem with AI structure regarding Africans. Google photos soon after its launch in 2015, tagged photos of black people as ‘gorillas’ which created a lot of controversy with the company and compelled it to fix the issue immediately. The struggle with diversity needs to be curbed and an inclusive algorithm representing all end users need to be developed.

Nyalleng Moorosi, a software engineer at the center whose work focuses on making AI more diverse said – “More Africans would be included in data gathering to provide an accurate representation of users. When you build something, you think it will only work for the world you know and your neighborhood. And you forget that maybe it can be so great it becomes deployed to foreign neighborhoods.”

Further, she said, “The best way to go about is to have diverse teams working on these algorithms and then we will get somewhere.”

Despite its bit late schedule, the center is now functional and the company bets on the artificial intelligence technology to have a transformational effect in Africa.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

DHL eSHOP Brings Over 200 Global Online Stores to African Consumers

DHL Express has announced the launch of its new mobile and desktop app aimed at improving the online shopping experience for Africa-based consumers.

The new platform, DHL Africa eSHOP, enables customers to shop directly from more than 200 US- and UK-based online retailers, with all shipments delivered by DHL Express, to the shopper’s door.

DHL Africa eSHOP will be available in 11 African markets to start – South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

This solution was developed in partnership with Link Commerce – a division of Mall for Africa.

Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa, says that the DHL Africa eSHOP app offers African consumers much greater access to international retailers on an easy-to-use platform.

“DHL Africa eSHOP provides convenience, speed and access for online customers in Africa. As the global leader in express logistics, DHL is well positioned to connect African consumers with exciting global brands. This is yet another opportunity for DHL to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the growth of e-commerce in the region.”

According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, the demand for world-class online shopping opportunities is growing exponentially in Africa’s leading economies, as urbanisation and incomes continue to rise.

Despite the growing demand, many US and UK-based retailers do not offer shipping to African countries, owing to the perceived logistical challenges involved such as high last-mile delivery costs and fraud concerns.

However, DHL Express was the first express operator to set up in Africa over 40 years ago, so we are well positioned to offer innovative and reliable solutions for on the continent.”

“E-commerce offers enormous potential for the region, and we are proud to provide this platform to further connect African consumers with global opportunities,” concludes Heymans.

For more information about DHL eSHOP, click here.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Africa Eyes $1 Trillion in Private Equity Deals

Fund managers say ready to deploy up to US$1 trillion for investment in the continent.

The African continent is set for a major shift in Private Equity investment trends after a major announcement was made in Nairobi this week.

During the 16th annual African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) conference, fund managers from around the globe, mainly the US and European markets said they are ready to deploy up to US$1 trillion for investment in the continent.

This is through PE funds, a move that now places the continent at a strategic position to tap into the funds for investments in various areas.

If tapped by local investment firms, the pool of funds could more than double the number and value of deals reported in the last six years, with regions such as East Africa, West Africa and Sothern Africa reaping big.

“It is a plus for Africa,” said Baba Alokolaro, Managing Partner at Nigerian law firm- TNP (The New Practice),“From what we have seen, investors are taking Africa more serious than they had in the past,”

Alokolaro who led a team of experts from TNP to the Nairobi event said the continent should angle itself for more deals this year, singling out Kenya as one of the countries set to benefit in East Africa.

“We expect to see a lot of deals going forward. In East Africa, Kenya will remain a top investment destination,” he said.

AVCA latest data shows the value of reported African PE deals between 2013-2018 was US$25.7 billion, on a total number of 1,022 deals. During the period, total value of African PE fundraising closed at US$17.8 billion.

The highest value in the six years was recorded in 2014 (US$7.8 billion) which went down to US$2.5 billion in 2015, the lowest during the period under review.

Last year, the value dropped to US$3.5 billion from US$3.9 billion in 2017, reflecting reduced investment activities by both fund managers and investment funds.

West Africa leads in both the number and value of deals reported during the period, where it accounted for 26 per cent(volume) and 25 per cent-share of total deals.

East Africa took a sizable share commanding 18 per cent of PE deals by volume , but lower on value which accounted for eight per cent of the US$25.7 billion.

The Nairobi announcement hence places the continent at a strategic position to revitalize the markets.

AVCA Chief Executive Michelle Essome has since expressed confidence over growth of the PE market in the continent.

“We are positive the PE market will continue growing presenting a unique asset class for Africa. The growth will enable companies to expand, create employment and improve lives in the continent,” Essome said told journalists in Nairobi.

AVCA Chairperson Tokunboh Ishmael said: “Our hope is that companies will grow to an extent where they will expand and increase intra-regional trade.”

According to Tokunboh, who is also the Co-founder & MD of Alitheia Identity, growth in investments will strengthen the continent, giving Africa a stronger bargaining capacity in the global scene.

East Africa

Kenya has continued to dominate the region’s PE space as investment firms hunt for deals in different sectors.

According to official industry data, the East Africa’s economic power house accounted for 59 per cent and 58 per cent of the value and volume of deals reported in the region respectively, between 2013 and 2018.

Uganda took 19 per cent of the volume of PEs and 11 per cent of the total value. Tanzania accounted for nine per cent on both the volume and value of deals reported in the region.

Ethiopia took an 11 per cent share of PE deals by value and seven per cent by volume, Rwanda six per cent (volume) and three per cent (value) while Djibouti had a seven per cent share of PE deals by value and one per cent (volume) of the total deals.

194 PE deals were reported during the six year period(2013-2018) valued at US$2.4 billion, of which US$6 million worth of the deals were median deal size.

“The average growth rate in East Africa was almost six per cent from 2010 to 2018, with Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania recording above-average growth rate,” AVCA says in its latest report.

East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) data shows disclosed value for deals almost doubled to US$834.3 million last year, compared with US$446.78 million in 2017.

Ethiopia has the potential to be a key market for PE investment, AVCA has since noted, given the size of its population (at 108 million) , the second most populous on the continent.

This year’s event saw more than 500 top fund managers and strategic investors from across the globe meet in Nairobi to deliberate on industry challenges and investment opportunities, mainly in Africa.

The fund managers collectively manage more than $1.5 trillion (Sh151.3 trillion) in assets.

During the forum, the Kenyan government called on investors to put funds in projects that will help the realization of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda of Food Security, Universal Health Care, Affordable Housing and Growth of the Manufacturing sector.

“We welcome you to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the country, mainly in the Big Four and other sectors,” Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives CS Peter Munya said.

The government has since assured investors of protection for their investments in the country.

Top areas of investment

Sectors commanding huge numbers in PE investments in the continent include consumer staples (15 per cent), consumer discretionary(14 per cent),industrial(13 per cent),IT(11 per cent),real estate(nine per cent), Health Care(7%),utilities (6%),communication services(6%) materials(5%) and energy(3%).

“There is a lot to expect in the PE market with East Africa expected to remain bullish,” said Edward Muriu, Team Leader at MMC Africa, a leading advisor in the capital markets space.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Markus Spiske [1], [2].